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10 Under-the-Radar Museums in Mexico City

Enjoy these collections in the Mexican capital, from the weird to the wonderful.

Paints and Frida Kahlo's wheelchair on show in a Mexico City museum.
Hi, I'm Liam!

Liam Greenwell is a writer and teacher based in Mexico City. He is originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts. You can read more of his work at liamgreenwell.com and find him on Twitter @liam_greenwell.

Mexico City is a city of museums. From the Palacio de Bellas Artes to the National Anthropology Museum to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, certain iconic collections are sure to find a place on nearly every tourist’s itinerary. But after hitting the big ones, make sure to investigate those that fly a bit more under the radar. Some are local favorites, others are hidden gems, and others are weird and wild additions that offer a truly unique cultural experience. It seems there’s a museum for everything in CDMX, so here are the ones that should be on your list.

1. Anahuacalli Museum (Museo Anahuacalli)

Exhibits on display at Anahuacalli Museum (Museo Anahuacalli) in Mexico City.
Diego Rivera certainly had an eye.Fotograf: BondRocketImages / Shutterstock

A palace of pre-Hispanic culture.

Diego Rivera remains one of Mexico’s most famous artists, a muralist whose monumental paintings take up a prominent place in the national artistic consciousness. But he was also a devoted collector of artifacts from multiple Mesoamerican cultures. Witness the extent of his hobby at the Anahuacalli Museum, which occupies an utterly unique building made of volcanic stone in the south of Mexico City.

Wind your way through the cavernous exhibition rooms before emerging on the upper balcony, which has one of the best views of the metropolis (short of a private helicopter tour). Nearly every visitor who makes their way here leaves with it being their favorite museum of the trip.

Don't miss: The views from the balcony are worth the visit alone.

2. Museum of Pulque and Pulquerias (Museo del Pulque y las Pulquerías)

Colorful signs on display at the Museum of Pulque and Pulquerias (Museo del Pulque y las Pulquerías) in Mexico City.
Pulque is a pre-Hispanic favorite, that you can learn about at this fascinating museum.Fotograf: Darin / Tripadvisor

A shrine to the Mexican drink.

Pulque is an alcoholic drink made of the fermented sap from the agave plant—think of it as an agave-style beer, which is cultivated earlier in the process than the distilled products of mezcal and tequila. It was sacred in pre-Hispanic culture, though its popularity suffered under bans installed by both Spanish colonizers and the independent Mexican state.

Today, that’s changing, as the government embraces the history and relevance of pulque. Visit this museum, just steps from the Alameda in the Centro neighborhood.

Don't miss: Head downstairs to the attached pulquería to try one of several available flavors, from strawberry to pine nut to celery.

3. Chopo University Museum (Museo Universitario del Chopo)

Contemporary art displays inside Chopo University Museum (Museo Universitario del Chopo) in Mexico City.
For the best in contemporary art, visit Chopo University Museum (Museo Universitario del Chopo).Fotograf: MattewASharp / Tripadvisor

A monument to contemporary art.

Housed in a skeletal, imposing structure that was once a history museum and steel mill, the Chopo University Museum is a space for contemporary art operated by UNAM (the largest university in Mexico). Wander through rotating exhibits, down ramps, and up colorful stairways, getting lost in the mix of sculptures, video displays, and more.

The museum also hosts regular events, including bilingual panels and live music concerts. After your visit, explore the lively neighborhoods of San Rafael and Santa María La Ribera, home to hidden bookstores and local flavors.

Don't miss: The small back garden, complete with its large sculpture, is a great place for a moment of quiet reflection in a hectic city.

4. National Museum of Interventions (Museo Nacional de las Intervenciones)

Displays on show at under-the-radar Mexico City's National Museum of Interventions (Museo Nacional de las Intervenciones).
The museum is housed in a former monastery.Fotograf: Veronica M / Tripadvisor

Different views of history.

This sobering museum tracks the many interventions that foreign powers have staged in Mexico, from the Americans (in the 1840s and 1910s) to the French (in the 1830s and 1860s). Mexican independence was hard-fought, and this museum tracks the many efforts to make the country subservient to foreign powers.

The museum building itself is a former monastery and was used to defend Mexico City from the Americans during the Mexican-American War. Learn about this history, often forgotten in the US and elsewhere, before lingering in the gardens of the museum. While you’re in the south of the city, you can also visit Xochimilco and float on the canals.

Don't miss: The old chapel, where you can see the history of the convent that used to occupy the building.

5. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Studio-Museum (Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo)

A blue and red painted wall in the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Studio-Museum (Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo) in Mexico City.
Art fans will want to head straight to the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Studio-Museum.Fotograf: Bisual Photo / Shutterstock

An overlooked gem.

Many tourists visit Mexico City and only make time for the Frida Kahlo Museum (also known as Casa Azul), perhaps the most famous of Diego and Frida’s homes. Just a few minutes away, however, sits the artistic couple’s other residence in the city, a complex whose modernist design was masterminded by the architect Juan O’Gorman.

Climb steep stairs to Diego’s studio, housing a mishmash of collectibles that served as inspiration for the muralist, before crossing a small bridge to Frida’s separate home. The house is within walking distance of the Bazaar Sábado, a Saturday-only art market in the center of San Ángel.

Don't miss: Almost everyone's there for Frida, but don't skip Diego's studio filled with a mixture of folk art and pre-Hispanic artifacts.

6. El Borceguí Footwear Museum (Museo del Calzado El Borceguí)

Fresh basketball sneakers on display at the under-the-radar Mexico City museum El Borceguí Footwear Museum (Museo del Calzado El Borceguí).
El Borceguí showcases all kinds of footwear.Fotograf: Ale B / Tripadvisor

For shoe fanatics.

Tucked in the Centro neighborhood near more famous museums such as the Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) and the MUNAL, El Borceguí spotlights footwear of all types. You’ll find thousands of kinds of shoes here, including some that date back to Ancient Rome and a few that pay homage to certain fictional characters (like Puss in Boots).

The museum is private, owned by the footwear company of the same name, which was founded in the historic center more than 150 years ago. After exploring the impressive collection, enjoy the best of the culinary scene of the Centro Historico on a food tour.

Don't miss: The shoes worn by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission are a particular highlight.

7. Axolotl Museum (Museo del Ajolote)

The humble axolotl, which the Axolotl Museum (Museo del Ajolote) in Mexico City is dedicated to.
Get to know this fascinating, and endangered, amphibian.Fotograf: Iva Dimova / Shutterstock

Support this endangered amphibian.

The ajolote (or “axolotl” in English) is a salamander that historically occupied much of the Valley of Mexico (before the lakes were largely drained in the rapid expansion of the city). Now, they’re limited to Lake Xochimilco, with as few as 50 currently in the wild. This museum is a refuge for these endangered animals and also works hard to spread knowledge about the strange, wonderful creatures. Learn about their incredible healing power (they can regenerate limbs, organs, and even parts of their brains) on a tour that features ajolote conservation efforts.

Don't miss: Take part in one of the museum's many workshops and event to learn more about these fun-looking fellas.

8. Kaluz Museum (Museo Kaluz)

Art on show at the under-the-radar museum Kaluz Museum (Museo Kaluz) in Mexico City.
This is one of the newest museums in the city.Fotograf: Pnickels613 / Shutterstock

A new collection in old digs.

One of the newest museums in Mexico City, Museo Kaluz is the passion project of businessman Antonio del Valle Ruiz. The collection features works by primarily Mexican artists grouped around different themes—recent exhibitions have featured art with instruments, women in dialogue, and Spanish artists in exile in Mexico.

The building itself might just be the highlight of the space: a meticulously restored 18th-century structure with a roof café that looks over the nearby Alameda and the Latin-American Tower (Torre Latinoamericana). Visit the tower on a private tour that also guides you through most of the Historic Center.

Don't miss: The rooftop café with striking views over Mexico City's bustling Alameda is truly a must.

9. Mixcoac Archaeological Site (Zona Arqueológica de Mixcoac)

Mixcoac Archaeological Site (Zona Arqueológica de Mixcoac) is home to centuries-old structures in Mexico City.
You can find ancient ruins right in the heart of the city.Fotograf: Santiago Castillo Chomel / Shutterstock

A bite-sized ruins adventure.

Most visitors to Mexico City plan to see some archeological sites, especially the massive pyramids at Teotihuacán or the Templo Mayor in the city center. However, there are smaller ruins in various parts of the city itself.

At the Zona Arqueologico de Mixcoac, you can see this contrast between centuries-old structures and the city’s urbanization up close. The site, which is free to visitors, features several structures that were important to the local Aztec population. At that time, the area was on the shores of Lake Texcoco and formed a small gathering place.

Don't miss: The on-site museum that explores exactly how they've managed to conserve this site, despite the construction of the Mexico City Metro.

10. Electric Transport Museum (Museo del Servicio de Transportes Eléctricos)

People ride the Mexico City metro in Mexico City
Learn more about Mexico City's public transportation (pictured) at the Electric Transport Museum.Fotograf: Eve Orea / Shutterstock

See trains, trams, and various modes of transport.

If you’re interested in the history of public transportation, this outdoor museum should be on your list. Here, on the border of the Iztapalapa borough, you’ll find a grand collection of old buses, trains, and trams that used to make up much of the public transit of Mexico City.

Learn about signaling, construction, and more as you study the remarkable evolution of transport in this city. You’re allowed to enter most of the vehicles, and sometimes, there are temporary photography exhibitions on display.

Don't miss: The graffiti covered tram decorated with skull designs is a particular stand-out.

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